Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Judges

This Tuesday, Jan 1, there will be some new Democratic faces joining the courthouse.

At 10:00 am in the Central Jury Room, Gloria Saldana will be sworn in as Judge of the 438th District Court.  Saldana will be returning after being swept out in the 2010 red tidal wave.

At 10:30 am in the Presiding Court Room, attorney David Canales will be sworn in as Judge of the 73rd District Court.  The seat of the late Andy Mireles, this seat returns to Democratic hands after only a brief intermission.  Canales has been criticized for being too young and inexperienced, hopefully he can prove the critics wrong.

At 11:30 am in the Central Jury Room, Michael Mery will be sworn in as Judge of the 37th District Court.  Mery is making a return and getting a promotion.  Previously a County Court-at-Law judge, Mery was defeated in the Democratic primary for re-election 2010.  Mery returns to the bench, but with a promotion to a state judge.


At 1:00 pm in the Central Jury Room, Laura Salinas will be sworn in as Judge of the 166th District Court.  Like Mery, Salinas is also making a return and getting a promotion.  Also a County Court-at-Law judge, Salinas lost in the 2010 general election.

At 2:30 pm in the Central Jury Room, Ray Olivarri will be sworn in as Judge of the 399th District Court.  Olivarri rounds out our 3 former county court judges who made a return this year and got a promotion.

At 4:00 pm in the Central Jury Room, Rebeca Martinez will be sworn in as a Justice on the 4th Court of Appeals.

At 5:00 pm in the Central Jury Room, Luz Elena Chapa will be sworn in also as a Justice on the 4th Court of Appeals.

Both Chapa and Martinez, along with Patricia Alvarez (she is being sworn in, in Laredo) are part of the new Democratic majority on the 4th Court of Appeals.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2 Whorehouse Connections

While more people probably heard about the passing of actor Charles Durning, another person passed away two days earlier who also had a connection to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  Larry L. King.  From the AP via the San Antonio Express-News:
Larry L. King, a writer and playwright whose magazine article about a campaign to close down a popular bordello became a hit Tony Award-nominated musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and a movie starring Burt Reynolds, died Thursday. He was 83.

...King wrote his most famous piece about the Chicken Ranch brothel in 1974 for Playboy magazine, took the $3,000 and thought no more about it. But Peter Masterson, a Texas actor, saw the article and thought it would make a great play. He and King got together with songwriter Carol Hall, another Texan, to create the smash musical. Tommy Tune was the director and in charge of musical staging.

The movie version starring Dolly Parton and Reynolds was less than a smash with critics, including King, who thought Hollywood had ruined the story and turned it into a sex romp.

King was one of a group of journalists who spent 1969-70 at Harvard University and his 8,000-word account of the year, "Blowing My Mind at Harvard," appeared in Harper's magazine. He also wrote for The Texas Observer, Life and Texas Monthly, among others, and penned a biography of former Harper's editor Willie Morris in 2006...
Here's Durning as the Academy Award nominated role of the Governor of Texas.  He also played a Governor of Mississippi, who was named after a Governor of Texas, in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou?:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Messages

A couple of Christmas messages.  First from the Obamas:



And here's one from down under, Australian PM Julia Gillard:


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Certified Platinum

The federal building here in San Antonio has been certified platinum:

On the third floor of the Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, a door leads from a beige-painted hallway to a lush meadow.

Inside the building, at Houston and Alamo streets, bureaucrats, lawyers and the public shuffle between U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the post office and various federal agencies.

In the meadow, planted on the roof, butterflies and bees flutter and buzz between tufts of dark-green buffalo grass and purple heart.

The green roof is the centerpiece of a $56 million renovation of the 75-year-old building, the "greenest" owned by the U.S. General Services Administration. It is the first GSA building to earn platinum certification — the highest — in its category from the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

The mixture of native and adaptive grasses and sedum proved that plants can grow on a roof in the middle of San Antonio. At 13,000 square feet, it is the largest green roof in the city.

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Texans on House Committees

The Democratic Caucus has selected committee slots for new members.  For the newly elected Democrats from Texas, here's what they got:

Joaquin Castro, Armed Services

Pete Gallego, Armed Services

Beto O'Rourke, Homeland Security

Marc Veasey, Armed Services

Filemon Vela, Agriculture

Some other announcements that made news...

Henry Cuellar has been moved onto Appropriations

Eddie Bernice Johnson is now the ranking member for Science, Space & Technology

Cryin' Time

Break out the handkerchiefs.  It's Cryin' Time again for Republicans.  First, the Crier in Chief John Boehner was denied Plan B by the Republican Caucus.  Apparently Republicans don't like Plan B when it comes to contraception and they don't like Plan B when it comes to the budget.

Boehner brought this on himself.  He let the Tea Party Republicans takeover during the debt ceiling debate.  What was always just a routine vote turned into a monster.  Boehner couldn't control his caucus during the debt ceiling debacle and now the chickens are coming home to roost.  The Republicans wanted that debt ceiling deal (no ceiling raise without cuts) and now they're shocked that it's coming to fruition.

Second, Texas House Speaker candidate David Simpson is all upset because someone was mean to him.  You can almost hear the tears welling up when he says, "These tactics exemplify what’s wrong with ‘politics as usual’ in Texas right now. … We must leave behind the politics of whispered insinuations, intimidation, and retribution."

I guess he prefers the Tea Party way of doing things...yell insinuations like a mob, use mob intimidation, and mob retribution.  Pretty much, just act like they did during the health care debate.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Gift That Will Keep On Giving: Donna Campbell


After State Sen. Donna Campbell's statement about the fetal pain bill, you know we're going to get nothing but a never ending supply of jokes flowing from her mouth like diarrhea from a cholera epidemic.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Number for the Day

Number for the day: 3,308,124

Significance?  It's the number of votes Barack Obama received in the state of Texas for the 2012 election.

Texas Democrats PAY ATTENTION!

3,308,124 votes was enough for every statewide Democratic candidate in 2010 to win.  You heard that right.  If every 2012 Obama voter had voted for all the statewide Democrats in 2010, Republicans would have only won 3 statewide races (because there were no Democrats running in those particular races).

Not to rub salt into a wound, but who would Democrats have been celebrating?

Governor Bill White, by a margin of 570,643 votes
Lite Gov. Linda Chavez-Thompson, by a margin of 259,015 votes
Attorney General Barbara Ann Radnofsky, by a margin of 157,060 votes
Land Commissioner Hector Uribe, by a margin of 306,388 votes
Agriculture Commissioner Hank Gilbert, by a margin of 354,349 votes
Railroad Commissioner Jeff Weems, by a margin of 427,359 votes
Supreme Court Justice Jim Sharp, by a margin of 400,328 votes
Supreme Court Justice Bill Moody, by a margin of 404,765 votes
Supreme Court Justice Blake Bailey, by a margin of 389,070 votes
Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Keith Hampton, by a margin of 402,112 votes

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

JP Wentworth

Looks like soon-to-be former State Sen. Jeff Wentworth will be the new JP for Pct. 3.

The decision was unanimous by Commissioners Court.  Overall, this was probably the smartest decision.  The area is heavily Republican, so even if Democrats appointed a Democrat, that person likely wouldn't have run for election or would have run and faced almost certain defeat.

With Wentworth, Republicans keep the seat, but it prevents any young, up-and-coming Republicans from adding a position to their resume, as well as preventing them from having a springboard for higher office.

Wentworth is 72 years old and not likely to be climbing the political ladder.  He'll either serve out the remainder of this JP term or run for election to the post and serve a couple of terms and then retire.

There are still some benefits to being a Texas version of a moderate Republican.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Who Wants to be Pct. 3 JP?

Under nearly everyone's radar, Bexar County is playing host to its own version of American Idol.  In place of contestants singing their way into contention, we have politicos vying to be the last one standing in the game of Who Wants to be Pct. 3 JP?

Instead of the crusty and irascible Simon Cowell we have Commissioner Kevin Wolff.  Standing in for Randy Jackson, pre-gastric bypass, we have Commissioner Paul Elizondo; for Randy Jackson, post-gastric bypass, we have County Judge Nelson Wolff.  Rather than Paula Abdul, we have Commissioners Chico Rodriguez and Tommy Adkisson.

Who will they pick?

Democrats have a 4-1 majority on the court...but the vacancy comes in Precinct 3 which is heavily Republican and is mostly Kevin Wolff's area.  Will the Democrats pick a Democrat for the sake of adding another Democratic official...even though said official is likely going to lose (if they run for election) next time the seat is up?  Will Democrats defer to Kevin?  Will Democrats pick a Republican placeholder?  Or how about a Republican who won't seek higher office?

Ooooo the intrigue...

Who are the contestants?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Good on Malcolm Turnbull

It's not often I praise conservative politicians, but kudos to Australian MP Malcolm Turnbull.

From The Age:
On Saturday, in the wake of the shooting in Connecticut where 26 people were killed at an elementary school, Mr Turnbull replied to a tweet by Mr Murdoch.

‘‘Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy,’’ Mr Murdoch said.

Mr Turnbull then observed: ‘‘@rupertmurdoch I suspect they will find the courage when Fox News enthusiastically campaigns for it.’’

Big Shoes to Fill

The Express-News has an article about outgoing-Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.

Needless to say, he leaves big shoes to fill.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Democrats Dig In Their Heels On Entitlement Cuts

That's the kind of headline I love to see right now.  Democrats hold all the cards in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The people voted for a Democratic White House, Democratic House, and Democratic Senate.  The opinion polls show the public - even Republican voters - supports the Democrats' plan.  There's no reason Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security should be cut to protect the tax rates for the rich.

Republicans lost.  They don't get to call the shots.

If anything, at least the Republicans get a little taste of their own medicine.  All they've done is say no, no, no to everything, now the tables are turned and it's the Democrats' turn to say no.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gov. Perry: I Hate After Birth

On Dec. 11, Gov. Oops confirmed that he hates After Birth.  No, no the placental expulsion, although for most "pro-life" Republicans it can mean the same thing.  In this case, After Birth refers to the fetal expulsion that grows into a child, and hopefully an adult, and gracefully into a senior citizen.

Looks like we're going to have a fetal pain law on the books here in Texas.  Quick question: Is there any other medical procedure that is this regulated?  Additional quick question: If  men were the ones who got pregnant, would these fights over abortion be happening?

But I digress...

At this announcement with the Governor was a future legislator who is going to be a never ending source of jokes, State Sen. Donna Campbell:
“How tragic to think that these babies suffer pain, a cruel and unnatural death, for simply being unwanted while they’re in the womb,” said incoming state Sen. Donna Campbell, a Tea Party Republican from New Braunfels who was also on hand in Houston to support the measure. “It’s time to strengthen our laws to be in line with what science tells us is possible.”
I feel sorry for the suffering, pain, and cruel visits that people to the ER are subjected to when Donna Campbell is on call.  AND NOW a Republican cares about science.  Science for abortion = yes.  Science for evolution = HELL NO.

I don't know why the governor and others don't just come out and say it, "We love fetuses.  We just hate everything that comes after."

Question: Will this fetal pain bill come with anything other than a mandate?  Maybe additional funding for pregnant women?  Maybe funding for lab work & tests, prenatal vitamins?  Maybe an expansion of SCHIP to cover low-income pregnant women?

Somehow I doubt it.

We're 1st in the nation for uninsured people, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 49th in the percentage of low income people covered by Medicaid, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 48th in the percentage of people with employer health insurance, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 43rd in the amount the state spends on health, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 50th in mental health spending, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 49th in state spending on Medicaid, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 4th in the nation for people living below poverty, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 47th in monthly WIC (women, infant, & children) Benefits, but we need a fetal pain bill.

Let's face it, this being Texas, we're likely to get a fetal pain bill. But very unlikely to get any funding for those pesky things, like schools and health care, that actually help a population to grow and live.

I'd like to ask Governor Oops, how many of these anti-After Birth bills are we going to be subjected to?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Texas House Speaker Race

Rumble in the Capitol.  At first it was Bryan Hughes vs. Joe Straus.  Now it's David Simpson vs. Joe Straus.  Republican on Republican.  There can be only one.

Today State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) officially became a challenger to Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio).  First elected in 2010, he has been around for 1 Legislative Session, but has learned enough during that time to know how to be Speaker.

Who is David Simpson?  He was one of those Republicans who rode the 2010 Tea Party wave into elected office.  According to Simpson he got elected on the controversial platform of, "defending the Constitution, preserving our East Texas family values, and restoring government to its proper, limited role."  Somehow, that platform worked for him in a conservative, East Texas district.  Who would have thought?

He even includes a Statement of Faith on his website, because as you know, Christians are under such attack here in the State of Texas.  Since Republicans hold every statewide office, control the state legislature, and control the state courts, I'm not sure where the attack is coming from, but I'm sure there are some godless atheists somewhere that are hampering his ability to practice his faith.

He also has a habit of signing everything "For Texas and Liberty, David Simpson".  I guess just to remind everyone, if they hadn't already figured it out, that he really likes Texas and Liberty.  Personally I like to think Texas and Liberty were just what he named his 2 dogs.  This being East Texas, Texas and Liberty could be the names of his 2 six shooters.

When he filed, Simpson wrote an open letter to his fellow State Reps asking for their support.  Let's go through it, shall we.  My take in bold:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fun With Word Clouds

While we have finished our elections in this country (at least for a few months anyway), there are political contests going on all over the world.  One of those places is Canada where the Liberal Party is going to be picking a new leader who will try to lead the Liberals out of 3rd place federally.

Not being Canadian, but enjoying politics, it might be fun to at least just take a gander at what is going on by having Fun With Word Clouds.  We took the 5 officials candidates (according to the LPC website) and word clouded their vision/message for Canada.  All but Coyne, were taken from their launch speeches. Like politicians here in this country, they seem to like talking about their own country.

For anyone not familiar, word clouding is just taking something like a speech and seeing which words were used the most.  The more often a word was used, the larger it is. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jack Brooks, 1922-2012

Former Rep. Jack Brooks has died.  He was one of those rare breed of politicos who left a good legacy.

From the Beaumont Enterprise:
The counties airport and the Beaumont's federal courthouse are named for Brooks.

Brooks was among the last links to an era when Democrats dominated Texas politics and was the last of "Mr. Sam's Boys," protégés of fellow Texan and legendary 21-year Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn in the state's congressional delegation.

"I'm just like old man Rayburn," Brooks, from Beaumont, once said. "Just a Democrat, no prefix or suffix."
He also was a contemporary and supporter of Lyndon Johnson, who was U.S. Senate majority leader in the 1950s and later president.

Brooks was in the Dallas motorcade Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. He's in the famous photo taken later that day aboard Air Force One at Dallas' Love Field, standing immediately behind the grief-stricken Jacqueline Kennedy as Johnson, his right hand raised, takes the oath of office from U.S. District Judge Sarah Hughes.

 ...A Brooks-authored law required full and open competition to be the standard for awarding federal contracts. The 1965 Brooks Act set policy for the government's computer acquisition program, requiring competitive bidding and central management. His Inspector General Act established independent Offices of Inspector General in major agencies to prevent fraud and waste.

Other Brooks bills reduced federal paperwork, provided a uniform system of federal procurement, eliminated overlapping audit requirements and established the Department of Education.

"He literally has saved American taxpayers billions of dollars through his actions in improving government efficiency and eliminating waste," former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe, a longtime friend who died in 2010, said two years earlier when Brooks donated his congressional papers, photos, correspondence and other items to the Center for American History at the University of Texas.

Brooks also served on the House Judiciary Committee, where he strongly supported President Richard Nixon's impeachment and drafted the articles of impeachment the judiciary panel adopted. Nixon, who resigned Aug. 8, 1974, referred to Brooks as "the executioner." Brooks would rise to committee chairman.

...He supported civil rights bills, refused to sign the segregationist "Southern manifesto" in 1956, helped write the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned racial segregation.

His congressional longevity - figures showed there were 13,858 roll call votes during his tenure - was an issue for him and other long-serving Democrats who were swept from office in 1994. Brooks also had alienated gun owners for supporting a ban on assault weapons and abortion opponents for his support of abortion rights.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wanted: A Competent SBOE Member

San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff recently featured the new SBOE member Marisa Perez in his latest piece.

To sum up the piece, if you had a bad opinion of Perez after she unexpectedly won the primary, she seems to have done nothing to change opinions.  When a TEA spokesperson has to reach out to a columnist in order to get in touch with an elected official, something is wrong.

Perez was far and away the worst Democratic candidate on the ballot and should easily be primaried when she comes up for re-election.

She is wholly unqualified for the job and doesn't seem to have the maturity necessary to carry out the duties required of her.  Her judgement is lacking, as well as her transparency.

She violates the spirit of the Education Code, Ch. 7, Sec. 7.103, part c:
Sec. 7.103. ELIGIBILITY FOR MEMBERSHIP. (a) A person is not eligible for election to or service on the board if the person holds an office with this state or any political subdivision of this state.
(b) A person may not be elected from or serve in a district who is not a bona fide resident of the district with one year's continuous residence before election. A person is not eligible for election to or service on the board unless the person is a qualified voter of the district in which the person resides and is at least 26 years of age.
(c) A person who is required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, by virtue of the person's activities for compensation in or on behalf of a profession, business, or association related to the operation of the board, may not serve as a member of the board or act as the general counsel to the board.

By taking a government relations position with SAISD it shows an extreme lack of judgement and immaturity on Perez' part.  If she doesn't violate Part C, she at least violates the spirit.

This is not the type of person who should be holding public office and she should be defeated for re-election.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekend Sports Break

Congrats to UTSA (Go Roadrunners!) on its 8-4 football season.  If it weren't in transition it might be waiting to see if it was going to a bowl game.

As we wait to see which football teams are going to which bowls, what about basketball?

The UTSA men are currently 3-3 and in the middle of the WAC.

The UTSA women are sitting pretty at 5-2 and #1 in the WAC.

Over in the Big 12, the Texas men are having a rough go of it at 4-2 and second to last in the conference.

It is nice to see the Lady Longhorns doing well this season.  Currently 5-0, they're ranked #13 in the nation.

Kudos to the Big 12 women which boast 7 out of 10 teams from the conference in the top 25:
#3 Baylor
#12 Oklahoma
#13 Texas
#18 Oklahoma State
#20 Kansas
#24 Iowa State
#25 West Virginia

Thursday, November 29, 2012

John Steen, Secretary of State, Part 3

We've seen some of the donations our new Secretary of State, John Steen, has made over the years, but there is 1 name missing from the previous two lists:

Associated Republicans of Texas (ART)



This PAC is separated from the rest of the group simply because of some of the names involved or statements made by the group.  In fact, Steen is listed as being on ART's Board of Directors, as well as some other names that may be familiar to people.


 So who is this group that the new Secretary of State donated to and supported?

According to ART, the 82nd Legislative Session (2011) was a success.  Among the items they highlight:
  • Passed - by the largest margin in history - a state budget that reduced the cost and size of government
  • Protected the fairness of elections by requiring photo ID for voting
  • Safeguarded unborn children with a strong sonogram bill
  • Approved a fair and legal Texas House and Senate redistricting map

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are Texas cities gay friendly?

From the Human Rights Campaign:
The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, finds that while many U.S. cities lag behind in protections for LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community.

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: non-discrimination laws; relationship recognition; the municipality’s employment practices; inclusiveness of city services; law enforcement; and municipal leadership.  Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.  Seattle and other 100-point cities serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services. 
In Texas, HRC looked at 7 cities: Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, & San Antonio.  These are also the top 7 cities in the state in terms of population.  So how did they do?

Out of a possible 100...
Austin - 91
Fort Worth - 89
Dallas - 76
Houston - 52
El Paso - 49
San Antonio - 48
Arlington - 16

For San Antonio we scored:
0 points for Non-Discrimination Laws
0 points for Relationship Recognition
6 points for Municipality as Employer
10 points for Municipal Services & Programs
18 points for Municipality as Law Enforcement
8 points for Municipality's Relationship with the LGBT Community

We got bonus points for Services to vulnerable LGBT populations (2), Engagement with LGBT Community (2), & Success despite restrictive state laws (2).

John Steen, Secretary of State, Part 2

Previously we looked at which Republicans the new Texas Secretary of State, John Steen, had made donations to who were running for state office.

So what about federal office?

Henry Bonilla, former Congressman (TX)
Scott Brown, soon-to-be former Republican Senator (MA)
George W. Bush, former (thank God) President
John Cornyn, soon-to-be Senate Minority Whip
Elizabeth Dole, former Republican Senator (NC)
Jeb Hensarling, Republican Congressman (TX)
Duncan Hunter, former Republican Congressman (CA)
Kay Baily Hutchison, soon-to-be former Republican Senator (TX)
Lyle Larson, failed congressional candidate now State Rep. District 122
John McCain, disgruntled failed presidential candidate and Republican Senator (AZ)
Michael McCaul, Republican Congressman (TX)
Mitch McConnell, soon-to-be once again Senate Minority Leader
National Republican Senatorial Committee
James Oberstar, former Democratic Congressman (MN)
Republican National Committee
Olympia Snowe, soon-to-be former Republican Senator (ME)
Straight Talk America, McCain campaign PAC
John Thune, Republican Senator (SD)
Volunteer PAC, former Maj. Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) Leadership PAC

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

John Steen, Secretary of State, Part 1

Rick Perry appointed a new Secretary of State, naming San Antonio attorney John T. Steen, Jr. to the post.

It's the last line of San Antonio Express-News article that pretty much sums up why Steen may have gotten the appointment:
A longtime GOP supporter, Steen has contributed to the campaigns of Perry and several other Republican statewide officials.
This isn't to say Steen doesn't deserve the appointment.  Let's be frank, aren't a lot of political appointments sadly determined by someone's checkbook versus someone's ability.  Anyways...  He's served on the Texas Public Safety Commission, the Texas Commission on Economy and Efficiency in State Government; been past chair of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and past president of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission.

So who have been some of the recipients of Mr. Steen's donations? *These contributions are only those listed at the Texas Ethics Commission.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Government Secrecy Suffers Defeat

Unfortunately the defeat was not in America, but in the Britain.

From the BBC:
The government has been defeated three times in the House of Lords over plans to allow ministers to order secret court hearings to consider evidence in cases relating to national security.

Peers backed calls to give judges the say over the use of "closed material proceedings" by 264 votes to 159.
Critics say closed hearings are unfair to defendants and threaten the principle of open justice.

But ministers say intelligence which risks UK lives must not be disclosed.

The House of Lords is debating the Justice and Security Bill, which would ensure far greater use of so-called closed proceedings to examine sensitive intelligence and protect national security.

The BBC's deputy political editor, James Landale, said ministers had been braced for a number of defeats after a coalition of crossbench peers, led by QC Lord Pannick, joined forces with Labour and Liberal Democrat peers to introduce safeguards into the bill.

Peers backed Lord Pannick's call to give judges greater discretion to hold secret hearings, rather than obliging them to do so in national security cases, by a majority of 105.

Once again defying the government, peers voted by 273 to 173 to give judges and defendants, not just ministers, the right to demand closed material proceedings.

After suffering a third substantial defeat on a related issue, ministers chose not to oppose a series of further amendments tabled by opponents.

As such, peers nodded through without a vote changes that would ensure that closed proceedings would be used only as a last resort, and only if the court also had considered using an existing mechanism allowing some proceedings to be secret, known as the public interest immunity system.

However, a backbench Labour-led amendment that would have removed the whole concept of secret hearings from the bill was defeated by 164 votes to 25, a government majority of 139, although Labour suggested many of its peers had abstained from voting because it would have contradicted earlier concessions.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Texas Courts of Appeals, post election


Post 2012 Elections, this is now the new map of the 14 Courts of Appeals in Texas.  The blue areas are where Democrats are a majority on the court and the red for the Republicans.  Democrats will be the majority on the 4th, 8th, and 13th Courts of Appeals.  On the 4th, a 4-3 majority; on the 8th, a 3-0 majority; and the 13th, a 5-1 majority.

In addition, the 4th and the 8th will have all female courts.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The (Male) Pill

From ABC News:
United States researchers say they have identified a compound that may finally lead to a birth control pill for men.

In lab experiments, male mice given the pill were rendered completely infertile during treatment as they produced fewer and less mobile sperm.

The drug, originally tested as part of a broader cancer research project, does not affect the hormone system or sex drive, the team said.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Presidential Debate Moderators

The list of moderators for the presidential debates came out.  Everyone's talking about a women being a presidential moderator for first time in 20 years.

The moderators this year are two perennial favorites and two newbies.  Jim Lehrer gets the first debate, Candy Crowley gets the second, and Bob Schieffer gets the third.  Martha Raddatz gets the VP debate.

So who all have moderated the official presidential and vice-presidential debates?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Oy Vey and Holy Merde

If you thought the Republicants couldn't waste anymore time on useless bills, you were wrong.  The Republicans apparently can.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that would make English the official language of the U.S.

Kudos to Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who delivered is opening remarks in Spanish.

Money, Money, Money

Four new tidbits relating to San Antonio and one thing ties them all together: Money.

Word from Washington that the Democratic Super PAC has reserved air time in San Antonio for the 23rd Congressional District in the amount of $415,000.

From Brian Chasnoff we find out about the likely new Republican State Senator from the 25th District, Donna Campbell, and her crazy and ass-backwards fiscal policies.  You could basically sum up her fiscal views with, "Let's get rid of public schools."

A Florida firm has rated the local credit unions from A+ (strongest) to E (weakest)According to the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), as of 2011, there are almost 94 million credit union members in the U.S.

From the Pew Research Center we find out that San Antonio is the most economically segregated city in the U.S., followed by Houston and Dallas.  What does it say about a state that it has the 3 most economically segregated cities?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vietnam more evolved than Republicans?

No one knows if it will even come to fruition, but if it does, then we can officially say that Vietnam is more evolved than Republicans.

The it in question is same-sex marriage, which according to the AP, Vietnam may consider legalizing.

Republican Congressman, "Pay for my healthcare."

So far no Republican congressman has officially said this, but plenty have unofficially said this.  This week another Republican unofficially said this.

Republican Congressman Dave Camp (MI) was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  He also said he will be undergoing chemotherapy for it.

Like every other Republican congressman, he hates government-run healthcare:


So I have to wonder, will Rep. Camp survive his treatment?  If like nearly every other member of Congress, Camp will take advantage of his government-run healthcare, I wonder what his experience will be?

According to Camp himself, he won't have any say in his treatment.  According to Camp, the government will be at the center of all the decision making, not his doctors or himself.  According to Camp, he's already been forced into this government-run healthcare by the Health and Human Services Secretary and had no choice in the matter.  According to Camp, the IRS will be telling Camp how much he can afford to spend on his health insurance, not himself.

So again I have to wonder, how will Rep. Camp survive his treatment, if according to Camp himself, he gets no say in his government-run healthcare?

If Rep. Camp truly thought government-run healthcare was a bad thing, then he would pay for his cancer treatment out of his own pocket without asking any taxpayer for a reimbursement.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Friday

The opening ceremony for the Olympics is tonight, so here's some Olympic related news.

From Smithsonian Magazine comes an article by sports writer Frank DeFord titled, "The Little-Known History of How the Modern Olympics Got Their Start."  Smithsonian Magazine also has a guide to the Olympics.

From CBC News we get Welcome to London's recession Olympics:
We probably can't call them the Austerity Games. That was the title given to the 1948 Olympics that London hosted in the midst of post-war rationing when visiting athletes had to bring their own food and towels and were housed in dormitories, hostels and RAF bases.

But despite the high-tech glitz — and suddenly ballooning security costs — that is London 2012, there are a couple of hard, recession-lined realities to keep in mind as you take in this year's Summer Games.

One is that London's price tag — approaching $17 billion in public outlays — is far less than the previous Beijing Games and breaks an historical trend of escalating cost for hosting the Olympics.

The other is that the London Olympics will see 538 fewer competitors than the 11,028 athletes who participated in Beijing. That represents the fewest participants in a Summer Olympics in 16 years, since the 1996 Games in Atlanta — when there were 31 fewer events.
For more Olympic news check out NBC Olympics and London 2012.

Top Ten

ABC News (Australia) lists the ten most polluted places on earth by type of toxin, as compiled by the Blacksmith Institute.

  1.  Air pollution: Linfen, China
  2. Industrial chemicals: Bhopal, India
  3. Mercury: Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia
  4. Pesticide: Kasargod, India
  5. Chemical weapons manufacture waste: Dzerhinsk, Russia
  6. Organic chemicals: Sumgayit, Azerbaijan
  7. Lead: Tianying, China
  8. Hexavalent chromium: Sukinda, India
  9. Radiation: Chernobyl, Ukraine
  10. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs): Arctic Canada

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Texas Runoffs: CD-23 Part II, Numbers and Visuals

Some numbers and visuals from the primary race in the 23rd.

Texas Runoffs: CD 23, Name vs. Money

Congressional District 23

Primary Outlook: Lean Rodriguez

General Election Outlook: Tossup (Gallego nominee), Lean Republican (Rodriguez nominee)

Congressional district 23.  An obnoxiously large district, it stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.  The history of the seat and it's occupants is odd or interesting...take your pick.  It was created in 1965 and was first represented by Democrat Chick Kazen.  I will give Texas props to having old redistricting maps available online.  Prior to '66, Bexar County had a representative to itself.

In 1967, Texas redrew the lines slightly, but from '67 to 1992 the district pretty much was a Laredo-San Antonio district.  During that time the Hispanic population increased and Kazen was ousted by fellow Democrat Albert Bustamante in 1984, who would hold that seat until he was beaten by Republican Henry Bonilla in 1992.

In 1992, it stretched out west and then became an El Paso-Laredo-San Antonio district.  In 2003, the district was again an El Paso-Laredo-San Antonio district, but also less so at the same time.  Webb County (Laredo) was split between two districts.  Most of El Paso went to the 16th District.  San Antonio now had 4 congressional districts.  After some mid-decade redistricting and some lawsuits, the districts changed and in 2006, Bonilla was beaten by Democrat Ciro Rodriguez.  In 2010, Rodriguez was beaten by the current occupant, Republican Quico Canseco.

The current district is an El Paso-San Antonio district with no Laredo anymore.  The federal courts pretty much kept an El Paso-San Antonio district.

So who are our two candidates we have left?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Conservative Mayor Wants Gun-Related Ban

It's always fascinating to see the response on political issues, especially when they may come from some of the unlikeliest of sources. A conservative mayor wants to, "...ban anyone who has been convicted of gun crimes from living" in his city.

The mayor in question is Conservative Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

I Hate Mondays

but always like birthdays.  The Girl from Ipanema is 50 years old today.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

0-33

Question: In what realm can a team go 0-33 and still be considered viable?

Answer: Political realm

Yesterday Republicans held vote number 33 to repeal the health care reform law.  And with that vote they continued their streak as a first-half team who can't close it out.  The vote to repeal and the vote goes nowhere and they lose the game in second half when it gets to the Senate.

Who's #1?

To the dismay of so many Americans, we're no longer #1.  Forget the constant international surveys and studies that hardly ever show the U.S. in the top 10, because we now have the most reliable source...a politician.

According to Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, not only is Canada the greatest country, it also has the greatest city:
Stephen Harper's declaration that Calgary is the greatest city in Canada is threatening to stir up a national round of hometown rivalry.

The Toronto-born, Calgary-dwelling prime minister made the bold pronouncement as he officially kicked off the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede on Friday.

The event's founders "would be amazed to see that their Stampede has been part of giving birth to the greatest city in the greatest country in the world," Harper gushed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Separated at Birth?


Federal Circuit Courts

In November of 2011, the Baltimore Sun published an interesting article about the federal judiciary.  So often, the judiciary is one of those places that is overlooked unless 1) a nominee is high profile or 2) the nomination is for the Supreme Court.

The Judiciary is a branch of the government, but since you don't campaign for the office, most people don't pay attention.  This despite the fact that the decisions from judges have such an impact on everyone (Citizens United anyone).

Needless to say we like to think of the judges as impartial, but let's face it, there is a difference between Democratic-appointed judges and Republican-appointed judges.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Andy Griffith, a Good Democrat

TV ads endorsing Democratic North Carolina Govs. Mike Easley and Bev Perdue:




Supporting President Obama's health care reform:

Endorsing Obama in 2008:
video

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to the Past

Once again Bexar County Democrats have gotten themselves into a pickle.

The warning signs were there, but as usually happens with Bexar County Democrats a small minority, but yet at the same a majority, said, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."

Anybody who has been around the party long enough knows that for some reason we can't stand to have leadership that actually works.

A person spends over $100,000 for a position that doesn't pay.  Then tries to buy endorsements.  And still hasn't figured out that the county chair is responsible for organizing the county for the Democratic Party, not making policy.  Now starts off his term with committed outright lies while campaigning.  From the Express-News:
“The first vote that I ever cast, ever, was for Barack Obama, and I am very proud of that,” Medina said. During a second interview, he recalled casting his ballot during early voting at South Park Mall on the South Side.
Turns out that wasn't true:
However, records from the Bexar County Elections Department and the Texas Secretary of State show Medina was first registered to vote in October 2009 and cast his first ballot that November.

When first asked about the discrepancy, Medina asked for time to get his “timeline straight.”
He added: “I mean, I know I was here in '08… I know I was here helping defeat Lyle Larson,” who was running for Congress against Democrat Ciro Rodriguez at the time.
His explanation:
He later said he had confused the 2009 state constitutional amendment election with the historic 2008 presidential election.
According to the Bexar County Elections Department, there were 53,208 votes cast in the 2009 Constitutional Amendment election.  Assuming he didn't vote in the one River Authority race and the races for Von Ormy Aldermen, the only choices on the ballot were "For" or "Against".  In 2008, there were 530,278 votes cast in the Presidential election.  I personally had to wait in line to vote in both the primary and general election.  That's the only time I have ever had to do that.  And that was during early voting.  That's been the only election I've ever had to do that with.  How do you confuse a low turnout constitutional amendment election with a high turnout presidential election?

And yes, I do remember my first election that I voted in, the 2002 Democratic Primary, and I remember who I voted for in all the contested races.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back from Exile

It's amazing how much everything else drops in priority while you work on a campaign.

If it's a Monday, that means I hate Mondays, but I need something upbeat to start the week off with.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Hate Mondays...

but I love West Side Story.  Puerto Rico Republicans held a primary, so here's America from West Side Story.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Voter ID: Texas vs. Canada

Thankfully Texas' Voter ID law was rejected by the DOJ.  Now the state wants to argue that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.

The LA Times gets it correct with Texas' Voter ID law: Texas' Solution in Search of a Problem

One of the Republican talking points on voter id is to ensure against fraud.  Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I could have sworn I heard some Republicans making the point that voters in other countries must present an id at the polls.  So let's take a look at our neighbors to the north: Canada.

From Elections Canada: To vote, you must prove your identity and address.

Okay.  How? 

Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Republican Presidential Primary by County

From Wikipedia.


Comeback Gals: Race for the 166th District Court

Race: 166th District Court

Primary Outlook: Tossup - Lean Salinas

General Election Outlook: Tossup - Lean Democratic

This will be an open seat in November with the retirement of Judge Martha Tanner (D).  Like with all these judicial races...a little history.

Let's turn the clock back to 1992 and the Democratic Primary.  The Democratic Primary that year featured 3 candidates: Albert McKnight, Michele Petty, and Martha Tanner. Albert McKnight was later a Justice of the Peace and ran into trouble when he was charged with indecent exposure.  He was acquitted on those charges.  (His attorney in that case was the recently deceased Jimmy Parks).  Michele Petty is back again this year running for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court.  Martha Tanner of course went on to win the primary and the 166th District Court.  That's about all the history with this seat.

Who's running?

I Hate Mondays...

but who doesn't love Freddy Fender.  And he's singing the theme song for Texas Redistricting...Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 Republican Presdential Primary Results by County


Mitt Romney - Orange
Rick Santorum - Green
Newt Gingrich - Purple
Ron Paul - Yellow
Rick Perry - Red
Tied - Blue

FYI, Alaska didn't (or can't for some reason) report results by county, so think of it as an artist's interpretation.  Every candidate got something from Alaska, so every candidate is colored in.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Opening Salvo: Houston Chronicle Goes First


The Houston Chronicle is the first out of the gate (I think) with its endorsement of Mittens for the GOP nomination.  The subtitle to their endorsement should be: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Bexar County Democratic Primary Endorsements by Group

It's always nice when groups provide a list of their endorsements, versus having to search and find them candidate by candidate.  The groups below didn't endorse in every race, and a number of races are uncontested, but I went ahead a listed them all because in some of those uncontested races, at least one group offered "No Endorsement" even for candidates unopposed in the primary.  Some of the congressional endorsements may change now that there are new maps.

BCYD- Bexar County Young Democrats
Stonewall - Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio
NEBCD - North East Bexar County Democrats
Tejano - Tejano Democrats of Bexar County
Proud - Proud Democrats of San Antonio


Office BCYD Stonewall NEBCD Tejano Proud
President Barack Obama Obama NA NA NA
U.S. Senate Sean Hubbard Hubbard NA NA NA
U.S. House, District 20

Joaquin Castro & Ezra Johnson Castro NA Johnson NA
U.S. House, District 21 NA Elaine Henderson NA NA NA
U.S. House, District 23

John Bustamante & Pete Gallego

Bustamante NA Bustamante NA
U.S. House, District 25

Lloyd Doggett

NA NA NA NA
U.S. House, District 35 Ciro Rodriguez, Sylvia Romo, & Patrick Shearer Ciro Rodriguez & Sylvia Romo NA Lloyd Doggett & Rodriguez (without Doggett) Rodriguez
Railroad Commissioner

Dale Henry No Endorsement NA NA NA
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Keith Hampton Hampton NA NA NA
SBOE, District 3 Michael Soto Soto NA NA NA
SBOE, District 5 Rebecca Bell-Metereau Bell-Metereau NA NA NA
State Sen., District 19 Carlos Uresti No Endorsement NA Uresti NA
State Sen., District 21 Judith Zaffirini No Endrosement NA NA NA
State Sen., District 26 Leticia Van de Putte Van de Putte NA NA NA
State Rep., District 116 NA

Trey Martinez-Fischer NA NA NA
State Rep., District 117 Tina Torres Torres NA Torres NA
State Rep., District 118 Joe Farias Farias NA NA NA
State Rep., District 119 Roland Gutierrez Gutierrez NA NA NA
State Rep., District 120 Ruth Jones McClendon McClendon NA NA NA
State Rep., District 123 Mike Villarreal

Villarreal NA NA NA
State Rep., District 124 Jose Menendez No Endorsement NA NA NA
State Rep., District 125 Justin Rodriguez Delicia Herrera NA Herrera NA
4th Court of Appeals, Place 2 Baldemar Garza No Endorsement NA NA NA
4th Court of Appeals, Place 3 Patricia Alvarez Alvarez NA NA NA
4th Court of Appeals, Place 4 Luz Elena Chapa Chapa NA Chapa NA
4th Court of Appeals, Place 5 David Towler Towler NA NA NA
4th Court of Appeals, Place 7 Rebeca Martinez Martinez Martinez NA NA
37th Judicial District

Michael Mery Mery Mery Mery NA
57th Judicial District Toni Arteaga Arteaga Arteaga NA NA
73rd Judicial District David Canales D. Canales D. Canales NA NA
131st Judicial District

John Gabriel Gabriel NA NA NA
166th Judicial District Karen Crouch Crouch Crouch NA NA
379th Judicial District Mary Roman Roman NA NA NA
386th Judicial District Ron Rangel Rangel NA Rangel NA
299th Judicial District Stephen Smith Smith NA NA NA
407th Judicial District Ray Olivarri Olivarri NA NA NA
408th Judicial District Larry Noll Noll Noll Noll NA
438th Judicial District Gloria Saldana Saldana Saldana Saldana NA
Sheriff Andy Lopez Amadeo Ortiz Ortiz & Larry Ricketts NA NA
Tax Assessor Collector Albert Uresti Ernesto Castro Castro Uresti NA
Co. Comm., Pct. 1 Chico Rodriguez Rodriguez NA Jennifer Ramos NA
JP, Pct. 1, Place 1 NA No Endorsement NA Tomas Uresti NA
JP, Pct. 2, Place 1 Steve Walker Byron Barnett Walker Walker Walker
Constable, Pct. 1 Ruben Tejeda Alex Quintanilla NA NA NA
Constable, Pct. 2 Val Flores Joe Curiel NA Sam Talamantez NA
Constable, Pct. 3 Edward Coleman Coleman Coleman NA NA
Constable, Pct. 4 Mike Blount Blount NA NA NA
Dem. Party Chair Choco Meza Meza Meza Manuel Medina Medina

State Rep. Lozano: I Support $4 Billion in Cuts to Education

No he never said he supported cuts to education, but he might as well have said it.  State Rep. J.M. Lozano is switching parties...D to R.

Since he's switching parties, what all is he now endorsing?

Here are some of the accomplishments of the the Republican Legislature from last session:
  •  Cut $4 billion from Public Education
    • $1000 less per student
    • Larger class sizes
    • Less Teachers
  • 9% cut to Colleges and Universities
    • Less college financial aid
    • Increased tuition
  •  $2.03 billion in cuts to Medicaid & CHIP
    • Higher health care costs
    • Decreased access to health care
  • $2 billion in Tax Loopholes
  • Voter ID
  • Longer lines at the DMV
  • Increased fees for state services

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Tale of Two Canales: Race for the 73rd District Court

73rd District Court

Primary Outlook: Positively Canales

General Election Outlook: Tossup - Lean Republican

Unlike some of the other courts races, there's not a lot of history to with this particular seat.  Why? From 1989-2009 this seat was held by one person...the late Judge Andy Mireles.

This being a district court seat, a vacancy is filled by the governor.  Governor Oops appointed a Republican (duh) who won election to this seat in 2010.  Since the 73rd is elected in presidential years, the seat is up again this year and offers Democrats the chance to reclaim the seat.

Who's running?

2012 Republican Presdential Primary Results by County

Washington is now added. From Wikipedia:


2012 Southland Basketball Tournament: Go Roadrunners!

March Madness is upon us.  The Southland Tournament gets underway this Tuesday.


Unfortunately the UTSA women didn't make the tournament this year, but the men are seeded #5.

Go Roadrunners!


I Hate Mondays...

but I love the cancelled one season TV series Wonderfalls.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Manuel Medina Buying Endorsements

Or he's attempting to buy endorsements.

When we first came out with our ratings on this race we said 2 peppers for the general public and 5 peppers for Democratic activists, donors, insiders, etc.  Seems like a good call.  While the Express-News has ignored the race, Plaza de Armas hasn't.

A new article from PdA talks about the County Chair endorsement meeting of Stonewall Democrats.  If you haven't, you should get a subscription to PdA.

Here's the opening paragraph:
Precisely when did things start to get testy Sunday at the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio’s candidate-endorsement meeting? By most accounts, it was the moment Manuel Medina, challenger for Bexar County Democratic Party chair, strolled into the Downtown Luby’s with 40 soon-to-be-new members who all – coincidentally enough – supported his candidacy. Medina’s contingent doubled the turnout, and the candidate came in ready to pay the $35 membership fees for each of his followers.

That's right.  The candidate who in another PdA article talked about "turning the page" seems to be employing some pretty old school dirty tricks tactics when it comes to the County Chair race.  Medina seems to be turning the page alright, he just seems to be turning it back to a time of "Vote for me and I'll pay you."  And this isn't the first time.  He attempted to buy the endorsement of the Young Democrats.  Unfortunately for Medina, they require 30 days before new members can vote.  As PdA notes, "...he declined to pay his friends' membership fees."  In case you're wondering, Medina failed in his attempt to buy the Stonewall Democrats' endorsement.

One other casualty in this race looks to be one of Medina's supporters.  Former City Council candidate Chris Forbrich is not doing himself any favors with his support of Medina.

Medina is rumored to be wealthy.  It looks like he's really going to try and buy this position.  In addition, there was a candidate forum at the North East Democrats meeting between the two county chair candidates.  During a portion of Medina's presentation he was verbally accused of lying by one of the audience members.

Trying to buy endorsements, lying at candidate forums...the first word that comes to mind is sleazy.  And is that really the image Bexar County Democrats want to project?  Especially after the stolen money and Dan Ramos sagas.

Read Across America & Dr. Seuss' Birthday

It's Read Across America Day in conjunction with Dr. Seuss' Birthday.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 Republican Presdential Primary Results by County

Three more states added: Arizona, Michigan, & Wyoming.


Mitt Romney - Orange
Rick Santorum - Green
Newt Gringrich - Purple
Ron Paul - Yellow
Rick Perry - Red
Tied - Blue

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Heckuva Job MALDEF

I have a hard time feeling sorry for MALDEF and its unhappiness over the new interim maps.  This is the same group that in early February cut a deal with Greg Abbott on Congressional and State House maps.  Even then the deal was a sham.

From MALDEF's and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force press release on Feb. 6
MALDEF and the Task Force believe the congressional plan reflects the tremendous demographic growth in Texas: Latinos represented 65 percent of all new growth in the state since 2000. There are nine Latino opportunity districts statewide: CD 15, 16, 20, 23, 28, 29, 33, 34 and 35. No incumbents have been drawn out of their existing districts; and there has been no retrogression of existing African American opportunity districts. The new plan is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court remand to utilize the state enacted map, with the exception of where legal defects exist under the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution. 
According to the 2010 Census, Hispanic and Latino Texans are now 37.6% of the population in the state.   Texas will now have 36 seats.  Percentage wise Hispanics and Latinos should be the majority in 13-14 Congressional seats.  Yet MALDEF and the Task Force were praising 9 seats.  Including the 3 African American districts and it would have meant 1 additional minority seat in Texas.  WOW! 1 more seat.

FYI, here's the racial breakdown from the Census:
Non-Hispanic White: 45.3%
Hispanic or Latino: 37.6%
Black or African American: 11.8%
Asian: 3.8%
Native American: .7%
Pacific Islander: .1%

Now the interim maps are out and MALDEF is upset.  Maybe if MALDEF had stuck with the rest of the plaintiffs...

Connect the Dots

Connect the dots in cuts to public health.  From NPR:
According to a new report from the Pew Center on the States, more than 800,000 visits to the ER in 2009 were for toothaches and other avoidable dental ailments.

"People showing up at emergency rooms for dental is really your sign that your system is breaking down," Shelly Gehshan, director for the Pew Center's Children's Dental Campaign says. "It's just not serving enough people. This is your symptom of a system in crisis."
  In hard times, states often cut Medicaid's dental benefits, pushing low-income patients from the dentist's office to the emergency room.

But the shift from Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals is still costly to states. Dental groups have long since said that ERs only provide temporary relief for dental emergencies and lead to reoccurring hospital visits, which burden taxpayers. "We're spending in the worst possible way," Gehshan says.

For example the report shows that in 2002 Maryland had a 12 percent increase in the rate of ER dental visits once the state stopped Medicaid reimbursements for private practice dentists treating adult emergencies. Florida reported more than 115,000 dental-related ER visits in 2010, and in Oregon a 31 percent hike of ER cases among Medicaid enrollees over a three-year period.

Access to dental care is also creating the surge in ER visits. Safety-net facilities like community health centers are losing federal funding and are unable to provide comprehensive dental care.

The report suggests several steps to alleviate this problem. "States committed to serving more low-income people should ensure their Medicaid reimbursement rates are high enough to cover the cost of care," the report notes. Gehshan says that 90 percent of dental care in the U.S. is done by private practitioners and the majority of them don't accept Medicaid.